ki te Upoko o te Ika
History » European Impact
In the late 1830s, the New Zealand Company brought into Te Whanganui-a-Tara boatloads of European colonisers in search of a place to settle. The impact on Ngati Tama of the European settler, another competitor, was to prove disastrous as the new arrivals sought Maori land.
The Port Nicholson Deed was a dubious land sale transaction between the New Zealand Company and Chiefs in the Hutt Valley with the Ngati Tama Chief Te Kaeaea participating. The New Zealand Company thought they had purchased land from Te Kaeaea, but they had only been given anchorage and port rights to Wellington harbour.
The Crown set up the Spain Commission to enquire into the Wellington land sales. Spain came to adopt an attitude towards Ngati Tama claims, which ultimately came to seriously prejudice their interests because of Ngati Tama's actions in occupying land in the Hutt. While Spain noted the numerous faults inherent in the land sales, his findings incorrectly assumed that Te Kaeaea's participation in the Port Nicholson transaction was equal to complete comprehension of, and support for, the sale of Ngati Tama land. Despite the protestations from Ngati Tama people, the Crown assisted the settlers by making grants of Ngati Tama lands. The impact of Crown action in Whanganui-a-Tara was fatal; Ngati Tama lost their land and to a large degree their identity.
In 1844 Governor Fitzroy adopted a policy of compensating Ngati Tama. There was no consultation, and compensation proceeded in a summary fashion. Ngati Tama living in Kaiwharawhara received their share of the compensation under protest, and Ngati Tama living in Ohariu missed out on any payment at all.
In 1847, McCleverty concluded a series of agreements with Ngati Tama to finally settle the reserves issue. In total the 200 Ngati Tama received 2600 acres of reserves. These paltry reserves (about 13 acres per person) were set aside as compensation. Whatever reserves had been awarded was inadequate for their needs. The reserves were also unsuitable for cultivations, which was their main means of survival.